Bacillus Thuringiensis Aka B. Thuringeiensis Is A Bacteria, Frequently Used As A Commercial Bacterial Insecticide, That Infects And Kills Specific Insects. It Is Approved For Commercial Organic Growing By Organisations Such As The Soil Association. In This Article I’m Going To Explain The The Use Of Bacillus Thuringiensis To Control Insect Pests

Dr. Sahay, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bacillus thuringiensis was discovered in silkworms by Japanese sericultural engineer Ishiwatari Shigetane in 1902. He named it B.sotto after the Japanese word for collapse as it induced bacillary paralysis of the silkworms.

Later, in 1911, it was rediscovered by a German microbiologist, Ernst Berliner who was working in central Germany in the state of Thuringia. He named it after the state, hence Bacillus thuringiensis. On this occasion it wasn’t found in silkworms, but in flour moth caterpillars.

Please note that I do not advocate the use of this natural pesticide. But I do think there is a need to consider it, especially by those of us that choose the organic or vegetarian route, as this is a natural predator that is approved as being ok when used by organic growers and farmers. To ignore this fact is to accept its use.

Please don’t shoot the messenger if you find this product unacceptable!

Strange Facts About B. thuringiensis

B. thuringiensis (Bt) is a strange bacterium. It is closely related to B. cereus which causes bitty cream in milk and to B. anthracis which causes anthrax. But don’t worry, you can’t get anthrax from B. thurigienis.

The other strange thing is that although the bacterium is approved by the Soil association and similar bodies, genes from Bt have been used in genetically modified plants to make them toxic to caterpillars. Eg. in 1996 it was included in maize to counter the European corn borer . It’s also been introduced in some potato varieties but was later withdrawn due to lack of interest by farmers.

The Use Of Bacillus Thuringiensis To Control Insect Pests in Gardens & Allotments

Bt is very effective against caterpillars on brassicas and used by commercial growers. BUT apparently it is not licensed in the UK for use by gardeners. I’m told that if you see it for sale to gardeners, it is being sold illegally. However, I have seen UK based commercial companies advertising it on their UK websites! I assume they will claim it is for commercial use only, which is legal if the operator is adequately trained. I can only leave it to you to decide if you should buy it, and if it is legal for you to personally use in your circumstances.

Tag: The Use Of Bacillus Thuringiensis 

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Image: Dr. Sahay, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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